Saturday, November 8, 2008

Techno Heroes 1: Intro

The superheroes in the League of Superheroes were based on the characters in Techno Heroes comics. But how did these kids--home-schooled by a group of Christian parents, yet!--get interested in Techno Heroes? They ran into superheroes in the surrounding culture, if only through kids at church and comics at the store. But most superhero comics these days are kinky and even blasphemous, so the parents, especially Mr. Reilly, started looking for alternatives. Sadly, the Christian comics weren't that well done. But then something odd happened...

Ty Addison was a frustrated sci-fi writer with a literature background. His stories were getting nowhere, and his lit-crit blogging efforts fared no better. Then one night he watched reruns of The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne. He noted in a post to a sci-fi forum that the show was written by people who did not understand the period or the writer. "Those who cannot understand their own age with perspective must never dabble in another," he said. The upshot was a challenge: write a superior story based on Verne's work. Addison pulled out an idea he had been thinking about since that fateful night. The result: "Robert the Conqueror--a narrative from the Verne Archives."

It wasn't an overnight sensation, but an e-zine published it, and he found himself caught up in the world of steampunk. Next came "'I Am Called No Man'--a narrative from the Verne Archives," which was a sensation. Coincidentally, that story caught the eye of a librarian named Reilly, whose son Tom was just getting interested in superheroes and comics. It also got the attention of Carver Wells, a writer who had joined his friend, artist Frank Grissom, in moving to a new comics firm: Modern Heroes, Inc.

The continuing success of Addison's Verne stories led to a book deal: a collection of old and new stories, called of course The Verne Archives. The news spread, and Wells used it to pitch a new idea of his own to his now-flailing bosses: a steampunk title called SteamPower that would build on stories similar to Addison's. Marv Stanley and Hank Wolfram were too desperate to refuse a potential goldmine, even though it didn't fit their overall concept of modern heroes. Still, they touted the series and Wells as bold new efforts, even to the tagline "More Verne than Wells!"

Owing to various glitches, SteamPower debuted almost a month after The Verne Archives, but it still got a little interest. (One review said, "The best of the Modern Heroes line, which isn't saying much.") Stanley and Wolfram decided to give it one more issue, based largely on the Jagannath character, a steam-powered armored hero.

Then the unimaginable happened: a letter--an actual, handwritten letter--came for Wells, expressing appreciation for his work. It was signed, "Ty Addison."

Wells immediately took the missive to his employers, who just as immediately had him contact Addison, asking him to let SteamPower run adaptations of some of his stories, new or old. He consented on one condition: Modern Heroes, Inc. must let him try a modern, sci-fi superhero series called Techno Heroes. To limit liability for the project, it would be a separate division of the parent company, and Wells and Grissom would help create the new series. It would debut as a four-part series; the first would be called Titan.

The news spread rapidly, and Mr. Reilly, the librarian, picked up a copy of Titan to see whether it was any good--and whether his son and his friends' sons would be interested...

[This is a teaser, which is a writer's way of saying "ripoff." I'll summarize the Techno Heroes origin series, beginning with Titan, after the CSFF tour of Shade, assuming I survive it.]

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